Paul Tortelier

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Tortelier, Paul

Tortelier, Paul, noted French cellist, pedagogue, composer, and political idealist, father of Yan Pascal Tortelier; b. Paris, March 21, 1914; d. Villarceaux, Yve-lines, Dec. 18, 1990. He studied cello with Gérard Hekking at the Paris Cons., winning 1st prize at the age of 16. He made his debut with the Lamoureux Orch. at the age of 17; from 1935 to 1937 he was 1st cellist of the orch. in Monte Carlo; from 1937 to 1939 he was a member of the Boston Sym. Orch. He was subsequently 1st cellist of the Paris Cons. Orch. in Paris (1946-47). In 1947 he was a soloist at the Festival of Richard Strauss in London. Tortelier inherited his progressive ideals from his father, a cabinetmaker by profession and a Marxist by political persuasion. He participated in a number of organizations destined to create a better world-at-large; he was quite serious in his work to prevent aggression or injustices to countries governed by repressive rules. Although not a Jew, he saw great hope in the formation of individual communes in Israel and spent a year there working in a kibbutz (1955-56). He then resumed his career as a professional musician; also was a prof, at the Paris Cons. (1957-59) and at the Nice Cons. (1978-80). He made some appearances as a conductor. His wife, Maud Martin Tortelier, was also a cellist, and his daughter, Maria de la Pau, was a pianist; both appeared in performances of Tortelier’s works, which included Israel Symphony, several cello concertos, a Cello Sonata, and a Suite for Solo Cello. He publ. How I Play, How I Teach (London, 1975) and Paul Tortelier, Self-Portrait (with D. Blum; London, 1984).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Tortelier, Paul (b Paris, 1914; d Villarçeaux, 1990). Fr. cellist, conductor, and composer. Studied Paris Cons., winning first vc. prize 1930 (playing Elgar conc.). Prof. début 1931 with Lamoureux Orch. Prin. vc., Monte Carlo Orch. 1935–7; 3rd cellist, Boston SO 1937–40; prin. cellist Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Paris, 1946–7, then solo career with world's leading orchs. Eng. début (in Strauss's Don Quixote), London 1947. Lived in Israel 1955–6. Prof. of vc., Paris Cons., 1956–9, Nice Cons. 1978–80. Works incl. 2 vc. concs., conc. for 2 vc., Israel Symphony, vc. sonata, Suite for unacc. vc. Also chamber-mus. player with wife Maud Martin Tortelier (b 1926) cellist, daughter Maria de la Pau (b 1950) pianist, and son Yan Pascal Tortelier, violinist and cond.

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Tortelier, Paul (1914–90) French cellist. He made his concert debut in 1931. Tortelier is celebrated for his interpretations of Bach and Elgar. In 1957, he became professor at the Paris Conservatoire, where his pupils included Jacqueline Du Pré. His son, Yan Pascal Tortelier (1947– ), is a noted conductor.